A recent study by a business consulting firm shows that this year’s NCAA tournament will cost employers as much as $1.7 billion in wasted work time over the 16 days of the tournament.
As for Northern’s campus, it’s a safe bet that many professors at Northern will notice a sharp spike in absences this Thursday as students sit for hours on end in their dorm rooms, simultaneously watching games on television and following along to the live scoring updates online.
So, when you go to fill out your bracket, here’s my thoughts. But, you don’t have to take my word for it.
Despite standing in the same regional as overall No.1 North Carolina, the Tennessee Volunteers are my pick to win it all in this year’s NCAA tournament.
The Volunteers fell on hard times in the SEC tournament, needing a buzzer beater to sink under-achieving South Carolina before losing by one to Arkansas. The Vols will rebound from this loss as they have from their other three losses this year – by righting the ship and going on a winning streak. Following losses this year, the team has rattled off winning streaks of four, nine and 11 games.
The Vols will be looking for big contributions from guard Chris Lofton, the SEC’s all-time leading three point shooter, and forward Tyler Smith who leads the team in rebounds with 6.8.
With the exception of a possible Elite Eight matchup against UNC, Tennessee has been blessed by the selection committee with an easier than average road to the Final Four. The Volunteers will face American University in the first round, followed by another mid-major matchup against either Butler or South Alabama. Tennessee enters the tournament with an 11-0 record against mid-major schools – including wins over tourney schools Xavier, Gonzaga, Temple and Western Kentucky.
When all is said and done, the Tennessee Volunteers will be the ones having their “One Shining Moment.”
Cinderella: Kansas State
I was initially going to choose media-darling Davidson as my pick for this year’s Cinderella. But seeing as how past media-picked Cinderellas have fared in the past three years (0-3 record in the first round), I have chosen to go with the 11th seeded Kansas State Wildcats.
It may seem odd to pick a Big 12 school for a role reserved for little-heard-of mid-major schools, but the Wildcats seem like a fitting team to ride the pumpkin carriage and wear the glass slipper. K-State comes into the tourney looking like they will be fish swimming in a barrel, having lost five of their last seven contests.
Kansas State drew the best possible first round opponent in USC. The matchup pits Kansas State’s Michael Beasley against USC’s O.J. Mayo. Super-freshman Beasley will be looking to one up Mayo in the eyes of NBA scouts who will be evaluating each for this year’s draft.
Kansas State hasn’t been perfect this season, but if the rest of the team shows up to support Beasley through the tournament there is no reason that this 11th seed shouldn’t be an Elite Eight team.
Most Outstanding Player: Michael Beasley
It only seems sensible that if Kansas State is one of my Elite Eight picks, then K-State uber-freshman Beasley will get the nod as tournament’s MOP.
In 31 games this season the 6’10” forward is averaging 26.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. He scored 40 or more points on three occasions and topped the 30 mark another 10 times.
Beasley should be poised to put up huge numbers in the first round against a USC team that has been weak on defense and allowed points per game, including giving up 96 points in a flop to Mercer – a team that finished 11-19 in the Sun Belt Conference.